on September 2, 1999
This movie is excellent. I stumbled onto it on the Net accidentally because of the leading actor (Ioan Gruffudd) and his earlier portrayal of another classic character--Hornblower. Great Expectations is by far my favorite of Dickens and of all other classic literature, and this movie portrays the book wonderfully! Every scene--nearly every WORD can be found in some form in the book, from the younger Pip's nervous recital of Old Clem, to Orlick's reappearance and attempted revenge. As with all adaptations, there are a few drawbacks (and for this reason I would HIGHLY reccomend reading the book itself!). But I've seen very few movies adapted as accurately as this. Very very fine!
on November 24, 2005
First off, our friend below from Aussieland, is not correct. This IS the performance that aired here on Masterpiece Theatre in 1999 (it like other stuff on the WGBH label includes Russell Baker's openings and closing (singular as he did not do a closing for part 1). There is another BBC release from 1981 also on DVD which I do not know anything about. This version came out around the time the "modern version" shown on the big screen with Gwyneth Paltrow came out which takes place in modern Miami. Suffice it to say, this is the second time Masterpiece Theatre aired a true representation of this classic while the big screen put out a flop (the first time was Moll Flanders in 1996 which sad to say the single disc copy I bought here at Amazon is no longer in print and who knows how the double disc rerelease is doing). Ioan Gruffudd as Pip is as great as his performance in Hornblower. It also tells most of the story which several of the big screen versions leave out. If you are building a library of "Masterpiece Theatre" classics, then (even though it only aired in 99) this belongs in that library.
There is a definitive modern flavor to this classic by Dickens, yet the handling of the story is very dignified and seems to translate to film almost perfect. Mobile Masterpiece Theatre's telling of Great Expectations accounts for many of the most important parts of the story, and those who have never read the book (or, those who chose not to read it in high school), will have an easy time understanding the story of Pip's rise and fall in both love and status. Certainly this is not some cheesy modern remake that tries to be hip and cool; instead it modernizes the tale in a way that is very "Dickenseque."
One of the greatest strengths of the film is characterization. Some may see Estella and Miss Havisham as being a little more "sensitive and kind" in this version compared to the novel, but overall they fit their roles well. Ioan Gruffudd does a superb job of Pip as an adult, who learns of his great expectations and tries to use these to gain a better status in life .Abel Magwitch, who is the convict who helps Pip earn a better life, is also played very similar to the character in the novel. I also felt that Joe was depicted essentially as the character in the book, and he really brings to life his love for Pip despite the fact that Pip at times resents him. Some of the other minor characters are also fun to watch: Mr. Jaggers, Mr. Wemmick, Mr. Pumblechook, Herbert Pocket, Biddy. The great thing about Dickens' characters is that they are unique and, at times, eccentric and, as a viewer, you can readily identify those characteristics as they come up in the film.
Another aspect of the film that was refreshing was just the scenery. The scene at the beginning with Pip encountering the convict in the cemetery, the grassland scene at the beginning and the end of the movie, and the dreariness of London (as Pip first arrives) all seem to be very illustrative of the attitude of the film.
One disappointing aspect of the film was that, at times, it was too obvious and blatant. It's almost as if the director decided that people were "too lazy" to understand certain parts, so they just thought they'd have a character "fill in" exactly what happened rather than trying to let you decide on your own or show the scene the way it was intended. One example of this is the conflicts between Pip and Orlick.
Approximately 3 hours in length, this film still manages to cut quite a bit from the book and seem relatively short in length. I highly recommend this version, and it is much better than the Ethan Hawke/ Gwyneth Paltrow version of Great Expectations, which is very loose in its translation.
If you are looking for a modernized version of a great classic by Dickens, this is it. This film also works well for any teachers who want to do a comparison between the film and the book.
4 ½ stars
on August 16, 1999
This BBC production is absolutely excellent. Like Dickens' novel, it is tight and compact, but it delivers its message with a real punch. Ioan Gruffudd, who plays the adult Pip steals the show. His acting, especially in the scene where he confronts Estella about marrying Bentley Drummle, and at Magwitch's death are some of the best acting I've seen in years. The whole production portrays Pip's transformation and redemption quite well. The supporting cast are also good. Rampling as Miss Havisham captures that character's disturbed mind and how she ruins the lives of Pip and Estella. The great difference with this production from the novel is a lack of sentimentality. When Miss Havisham is burned in the novel, she begs Pip for forgiveness and he gives it to her. In this production, Pip does not forgive Miss Havisham for what she has done to Estella and himself. Likewise, Pip brings up that Estella has no respect for herself being married to Drummle. Dickens is not concerned with Estella's feels. This is a wonderful production that is a must see!
on April 28, 2005
Firstly I have to say that this is not a Mobile Masterpiece production it is a BBC production. The production itself is excellent, my favorite adaption of the Charles Dickens novel.
Unfortunately the DVD has been put together as if you are watching the production on television. There is an introduction by an American presenter who states that what you are watching is a Mobile production. This is tolerable but once you start watching you find that little icons appear on the screen as would appear on television (I think they are to inform the viewer that wide screen is available). Finally, before the end credits of the first part, you get to see what will be in next weeks episode.
It would have been a simple matter to take the original recording as supplied by the BBC and use this one for the DVD. For some reason the DVD producer decided that is was better to have exactly the same recording as was shown on American television.
If you want to get a copy of this production I would recommend getting one that was made for the British market.
on June 18, 2012
I have loved this version ever since it was aired on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre. The production values are very high here, as the sets, costuming, and cinematography are top-notch. The acting is first-rate here as well. In my humble opinion, Charlotte Rampling IS MIss Havisham. She embodies the complicated, subtle malice of a woman gone mad and Hell-bent on wreaking slow vengeance on the world, and the male sex in particular. And while this doesn't have a "happy ending", per se, Dickens' felt it appropriate to leave us with an ambiguous ending (albeit after changing the original ending), and I think it suits the film after the rest of it is very dark and sad. It would have seemed foolish for a happy ending to pop up out of nowhere. This version comes HIGHLY recommended! Now let's hope that a Blu-ray version is in the future to address the picture quality of the DVD!
on January 26, 2014
For some reason it seems fashionable to criticize this production, mainly because it carries old footage from Masterpiece Theatre, hosted by Russell Baker. Further, this film was sponsored by Mobil Oil Co. and produced by the BBC. In addition, some reviewers may see it competing with the classic starring John Mills and Alec Guinness from 1947. Moreover, since this 1999 film was made, we’ve had the 2011 production starring Gillian Anderson and other versions, as well. But viewers who fail to see this 3-hour epic from 1999 are really missing the best rendition of what may be Charles Dickens’ best novel. The story is timeless and inspiring; the romance, touching and well-portrayed. TV simply can’t be better than this.
Casting is almost perfect with a young Ioan Gruffudd playing the grown up Pip and Gabriel Thomson the young Pip. They look so much alike you’d swear they’re related in real life. Beyond this, Charlotte Rampling seems an ideal choice for the quirky Miss Havisham, as does Justine Waddell playing the wounded Estella. Other cast members, like those playing Magwich, Jaggers, Herbert Pocket, Joe, Wemmick, Molly, et al are equally well-chosen.
The ending of this story is not really a happy one. Abel Magwich meets a grisly end, Miss Havisham is burned alive, and the romance between Pip and Estella seems to be in limbo. One has to be reminded that Charles Dickens wrote the story and did two versions of the ending. This is the happier of the two.
I don’t know what other reviewers are talking about when they find fault with how dark and grim this production seems. I’m sure it’s exactly what Dickens would have wanted and exactly right for 1999. No, I wouldn’t object if the video were re-mastered into true HD-widescreen but I felt I’d waited long enough to see this flim again. No sign of a re-generation was found from BBC so I purchased it at a decent price on the secondary market. If and when a re-mastered version of this classic appears I will want to buy it.
Summing up, those who haven’t seen this version of “Great Expectations” shouldn’t wait any longer. Go and buy a copy from one of the Amazon re-sellers like I did. This is the best version you will find and its production values are fine for now. When a re-mastered version is released, I‘ll buy it.
on May 31, 2014
Should it be any surprise that British actors, screenwriters, directors and crew get British novelist, Charles Dickens, so right on film? This, Dickens' darkest view of society, is not a classic to be taken lightly because that is not what the great novelist intended. Charlotte Rampling incarnates the role of the tormented and tormenting Miss Havisham so well that she has made the role her own. Because the character of Miss Havisham is such a central and significant one in the mood Dickens creates for the novel, nailing her part, as Miss Rampling has done, is the most remarkable achievement towards bringing Dickens' darkest classic to life as performance art.
The 180 minutes of film was likely broadcast in Britain for the first time in 1998 on BBC. By 1999, the film was co-produced by BBC American and WBGH Boston. The DVD I bought is dated on the disc itself: 1999. However, the back of the artwork on the DVD case states that "Additional DVD and packaging" was copyrighted in 2004.
on July 20, 2002
Great Expectations is easily my favorite of the Dickens classics. With that being said, normally when you translate a book into a movie, something is lost in the shuffle. Mobile Masterpiece Theater has done a marvelous job, though capturing the heart of the tale.
Iaon Gruffuddd, of A&E's spectacular Horatio Hornblower series, does a good job as an adult Pip, however in his days working as Joe's apprentice I did not really feel that he adequately conveyed Pip's disatisfaction at being there very well or appearing embarrassed once he does come into his fortune and Joe visits.
Joe, on the other hand, is portrayed perfectly, as is Pip's aunt Miss Havisham and Estella. The plot is followed accurately, though at a breakneck speed, which causes the story to feel a bit rushed. All in all, though, it is a fairly good interpretation that anyone who enjoys the story would do well to pick up.
on April 27, 2000
I originally only watched this movie because Ioan Gruffudd, my favorite actor is in it. I saw him in Horatio Hornblower (which I reccomend you see also) and he was breathtaking. So I figured that Great Expectations would be just as wonderful. It was very good, but not as interesting as HH. Ioan, again, played his part with an enormous amount of emotion. But I can see why Horatio Hornblower won and the Emmy and not Great Expectations. Don't get me wrong, it certainly held my interest, I watched it both nights on PBS that it was on. But it was slightly strange. I can't see why it ended the way it did. (You'll have to see it to understand what I'm talking about!) But I did enjoy it, and reccomend it to anyone who likes Charles Dickons and period pieces.